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"I’ve actually had a recent discussion with Marvel about the possibility of returning to Panther in some fashion. Never say never, but I believe Marvel has graciously allowed me an incredible opportunity to say virtually everything I wanted to say about Panther. I’d hate to return to the character and the new stuff not hold up, and I’d hate to end up competing with myself." - Christopher Priest

So we come at last to the final issue of both Priest's Panther run and this iteration of the series. Those of you who've been following along, what'd you think? I'd be really curious to hear.

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"It’s important to stress how hated my Black Panther was when we launched and how small that audience for it was. Turns out it was way ahead of its time and would likely do much better now than it originally did." - Christopher Priest

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'I mean, Panther annexed Canada and stole Stark Industries—a real center of national security concern—with a single phone call. Somebody, somewhere else in the Marvel U, should have noticed that. Panther revealed an unthinkable military capacity for Wakanda—and nobody else anywhere else in the Marvel U had even a single concern about it. Which, of course, was ridiculous. Panther’s relationship with the Avengers had grown contentious and they were (at least in Panther’s book) openly suspicious of him and his motives if not fearing outright for his sanity. But none of this was reflected back at us from mainstream Marvel books, many of which Tom oversaw. Trying to mainstream Panther was, at the end of the day, foolish because Panther was still The Other, existing in a parallel Marvel Universe when, to be true to continuity, by the time Panther revealed these massive mother ships that could wipe out entire continents, the Avengers should have said, “Okay, that’s enough—time to shut this guy down.” Instead, other writers ignored us, ignored the universe-spanning implications of what we were doing.' - Christopher Priest

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"Kasper- so called because Cole, a Mulatto, is so fair skinned many people think he's white- is a predator, with a predator's instinct and a predator's ferocity. His is a culture of violence, and Panther, the book, would be written in the language of violence with the poetry and artistry of violence, similar to early Frank Miller operatic revisionist takes on Japanese samurai comics." - Christopher Priest

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"Editors Michael Marts, Mike Raicht and I commenced marathon sessions trying to re-create the wheel, looking at a variety of directions (including a really cool one where T'Challa became a villain and another, Raicht's idea, where Queen Divine Justice became The Black Panther). Much as we liked some of these ideas, even the best of them relied too heavily on established continuity. We were all reluctant to put someone else in the Panther costume because for us, that diminished the weight of the work we have all (including JoeQ, the series' original editor and co-creator) worked so hard to establish. But we had to lighten up: lose a lot of the weight of the continuity that, while serving the series, was not efficient for storytelling." - Christopher Priest

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'BLACK & WHITE is, therefore, about a war between The Black Panther (T'Challa) and the "white panther" (Hunter) over the soul of this young kid. What's at stake is as much T'Challa's own soul- and the conscience of the king- as anything else as these two powerful men battle it out by proxy in the Vietnam metaphor of the New Lots section of Brooklyn.' - Christopher Priest

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'Like Spider-Man, [the new] Panther is not, by any stretch, a super-hero. He regards "them," whoever "they" are, as super-heroes.' - Christopher Priest

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"Kasper lives with his mother, our dysfunctional Aunt May, Ruth Cole. Ruth is a plump, fifty-ish Jewish mom who inhabits a blithely disconnected space where she fixates on pasta and Mahjong tournaments while Kasper struggles for his life and his integrity. Ruth provides both dramatic tension and comic relief as Kasper's oddball domestic life shifts the mood from Training Day to Everybody Loves Raymond and back again. Our dysfunctional Gwen Stacy is Gwen, Kasper's pregnant Korean-American girlfriend. Her well-to-do parents have thrown her out, and Kasper has taken her in; the three of them sharing a cramped Harlem apartment and surviving on Kasper's meager pay." - Christopher Priest

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'We had a really terrific artist to begin with, but he quit after the first issue. The remainder of this darker, hipper, more urban (i.e. “blacker”) Black Panther was penciled by talented and well-meaning Latino artists who didn’t know who P. Diddy was; who missed many of the urban nuances of the script and who really didn’t know all that much about gangsta culture or, say, Brooklyn. It was an incredible debacle.' - Christopher Priest

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"My essential premise for the new direction in Panther became, in essence, a dark satire of Spider-Man, structured around the nuclear family concept of The Hero Who Could Be You." - Christopher Priest

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"The major complaint about Panther the character and PANTHER the series in our Marvel Knights revival has been that the Black Panther seems too invulnerable, too all-knowing, too far ahead of the game to ever lose. The complaint has been: he's a guy who never loses. Which is highly inaccurate. [...] King T'Challa of Wakanda, as a result of this series run, is one of the loneliest and most isolated figures in the Marvel universe. This is a discipline he chose for himself, a sharp personality shift that took place suddenly, between Don McGregor's lavish Panther's Prey and issue one of this current series. The consequences of that discipline, of the tough choices he's had to make, forms the basis for this summer's THE DEATH OF THE BLACK PANTHER." - Christopher Priest

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"Ross' monologues began to steal the show, offsetting the mysterious night creature, the man of few words whom Ross was attached to. The monologues were often outrageous, with Ross interpreting the Marvel universe through his Everyman's eyes rather than through the eyes of someone who's been reading comics all their life. It was a new voice, one seemingly hostile towards the Marvel Universe (and, by extension, its fans), but actually, the intent is more to be a social observer and deconstructionist.

"Rather than ignore or run from the looming shadow of skepticism and low expectation, Joe and Jimmy and I turned that stuff into kindling for the fire; the secret skepticism of most every Marvel reader became grist for our humor mill, as Ross blurted out what many fans were likely thinking, but never dared to so much as commit to paper or post on a newsgroup; questions of race and values and our own insecurity about being super-hero fans well into adulthood. Ross giddily makes salad of all of the anxiety of the adult super-hero fan, kicking over many a sacred cow in the process." - Christopher Priest

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"My only regret was discovering, while the drawing was in progress, that we were obliged to use the revamped versions of the Western characters from Blaze of Glory. I'd intended to use the original, Kirby designs with the goofy masks and cow spots and such. Learning I had to somehow make the Blaze of Glory characters funny and fun just took all of the fun out of it for me, and the western heroes were thus relegated to what became, essentially, a large cameo role. I just never got my mind wrapped around them and, all due respect to my good friend, the brilliant John Ostrander, Blaze just didn't do it for me." - Christopher Priest

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"I did not, however, want to disavow anything that had gone before. I know what that feels like, to have somebody come along and suddenly nothing you did ever happened. I think part of the fun of being a comics fan is seeing how writers solve problems within the rules and within the history of the universe. These days, the fad seems to be every writer gets to shake up the Etch-O-Sketch and pretend no other stories had ever been written about the character, and both majors seem overly eager these days to blow up their continuity every time sales dip. I went too far in the other direction, hoping to salvage every previous appearance of Panther, including Jack Kirby’s campy version, which we refer to as 'Happy Pants Panther.'"

- Christopher Priest

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"Either writers, editors, or both seem to love to take away the boulder the hero must push up the hill. What makes a hero a hero is overcoming adversity and choosing to place themselves at risk in order to achieve some greater good. I don’t even get Iron Man anymore because, over time, various creative choices have been made to systematically remove most any challenge he might have to overcome. Cyborg similarly overclocked, wearing thin my suspension of disbelief because – for whatever reason – writers and editors have chosen to pile on an unfathomable amount of capabilities to the point where, like Iron Man, the character is, to me, just a bit silly. Felix The Cat (I’m sure you’re way too young to even know who that was) pulling things out of magic spots." - Christopher Priest

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"ENEMY OF THE STATE II would run four months in PANTHER, with IRON MAN editor Tom Brevoort's unprecedented support (it is unheard of to borrow someone's character for four whole months, or to seemingly compete with the new writer at the same time). For a brief moment in time, Marvel was nearly publishing IRON MAN WEEKLY, as Shellhead appeared in his own title, THE AVENGERS and PANTHER all at the same time." - Christopher Priest

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"I was on my knees begging editor Tom Brevoort to give me a shot at writing Iron Man, whose writing slot had come open. I didn’t get the Iron Man gig, but Tom graciously allowed me to borrow the character, who became all but a permanent guest star in Black Panther for the story arc." - Christopher Priest

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"We got totally lambasted when the first chapter, issue #42, came out, where we reveal Panther has been spying on Iron Man all along, and where Panther decks Iron Man without even working up a sweat. IRON MAN fans HATED us and HATED Brevoort for allowing their beloved armored avenger -- whom they really prefer to be unbeatable (yawn) on any conceivable level -- to be kissing the mat after only a page and a half..." - Christopher Priest

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"I was able to delve into my more cynical take on Tony Stark and the reasons for his discomfort with T'Challa, exorcising my own demons with the sickness of political correctness and race sensitivity in this country. Best of all, I was allowed to put these two guys against each other. Both of them cunning, ruthless, and willing to bend the rules to win the game: the game being more important than actually who wins or loses (as such things are subjective designations, after all)." - Christopher Priest

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"My Black Panther was way colder: more aloof, withdrawn, and unknowable in a lot of ways. We saw him through Everett Ross’s eyes. The Black Panther in the film is much warmer and more likable, which he has to be to appeal to a wide audience." - Christopher Priest

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